UPDATE:  Truck driver involved in 'indescribably tragic' Highway 101 crash sentenced to jail time

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on February 16, 2016

WINDSOR – With a Punjabi interpreter relaying his words, the truck driver convicted of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm expressed remorse for his actions.

Mohammad Younus, 61, of Hamilton, Ont., was driving a transport truck that caused the July 9, 2013 accident that claimed the life of six-year-old Evan Servaes and seriously injured his friend, the seven-year-old daughter of Renee and Ian Dawson.

Younus took the opportunity to speak during his sentencing. The father of six children stood at the side of the court and, after thanking the judge, his defence lawyer and the Crown prosecutor, asked for forgiveness.

“I ask forgiveness from the victims' family and I ask forgiveness from God as well,” the interpreter said on Younus' behalf.

In Windsor court Feb. 16, Judge Claudine MacDonald accepted the joint recommendation to impose 28 months of jail time for each count, to be served concurrently, in a federal prison. She also imposed a seven-year driving prohibition, a 10-year firearm prohibition and a secondary DNA order. The judge also fined Younus $400.

“As a father of six kids and a grandfather to one, I'm sure you understand when I say that it is every parents' worst nightmare that something bad will happen to their child,” said MacDonald.

At the sentencing hearing, MacDonald said the crash was tragic and preventable.

“It's indescribably tragic,” said MacDonald, pausing for a moment. “And what's so, so troubling is that it was entirely preventable. Had you paid attention, had you slowed down – you had a clear view for 400 metres, you very easily could have braked in time and would never have driven into the back of the Dawson vehicle, with such tragic consequences.”

During the trial, the court learned that Younus' 18-wheeler, which was travelling about 105 kilometres per hour in a 90 km/h zone, slammed into a minivan that had stopped for construction on Highway 101 near Falmouth. The van then collided with a motor home towing a vehicle. During the collision, Servaes was thrown from the minivan and died in the hospital the next day, which was his sixth birthday.

Crown prosecutor Bill Fergusson said three years was typical for this type of offence.

“No matter what penalty is imposed, one cannot impose a sentence that in any way reduces the effect upon the victims,” said Fergusson.

A summary offence ticket that alleged Younus altered his logbooks was dismissed as MacDonald said there was insufficient evidence.

Chris Manning, Younus' lawyer, also requested the judge consider endorsing the warrant of committal, which could allow his client the chance to serve his time in an Ontario jail.

“I'm fully aware your Honour has no jurisdiction to order where Mr. Younus serves his sentence,” said Manning.

The judge said while the decision is ultimately up to correctional services, she would include her recommendation in the paperwork.


Family reaction

Tom Servaes, the father of the boy who died in the crash, said in an exclusive interview with the Hants Journal that he didn't file a victim impact statement as it became an overwhelming emotional experience.

Servaes said within the constructs of the current legal system, the sentence seemed appropriate.

“The judge came to the best professional outcome within the criminal justice system. Unfortunately for everybody involved, that is not going to help the victims other than we can stop thinking about that part of the story,” said Servaes.

“The advantage, for me, for having this over now is I will spend less time thinking about it – about the trial, about the conviction,” Servaes said. “But, that would have been no different if he had been found not guilty or if he had received a sentence that was 10 times longer.”

Servaes said the court process has been eye opening for him, and would like to see some changes made that would benefit the victims. Stay tuned for a story focusing on that aspect.